Requirements to get into the country:
Visas are compulsory for all visitors, and cost from $50. Visas are obtainable at the airport when you arrive, but rather have one before you land, as officials tend to “not have change”. Visas are obtainable from the Tanzanian Embassy. Please contact us should you want the Embassy address in your area. You will need 2 passport photos and 2 completed forms. Should you not have the time to organize a visa, please contact us and we will gladly assist you for a small fee.
Yellow Fever inoculation certificate
The inoculation is obtainable from your nearest travel clinic or from your local physician. Staple it into the front of your passport if you are afraid of losing it. Most African countries require this certificate, so don’t ever be without it when traveling in Africa.
Zanzibar is situated in a malaria zone, so it is recommended that you consult your physician on the prescription right for you. Pregnant women are not allowed to take Malaria prevention drugs, and are cautioned before entering any malaria area. To set your mind at rest, we stayed in Zanzibar for 2 years, and fortunately never contracted malaria. This is not to say you won’t get it. JUST BE CAREFUL.
Insect/ Mosquito repellent
Mosquitoes, like little vampires, favor night conditions. Be sure to take a repellent, and cover all exposed areas of your body (e.g. neck and arms). We recommend that you wear trousers at night and long sleeved shirts should you be outdoors. If the heat is too much and you wear a short sleeved shirt, make sure you smear/ spray your arms with repellent. At night before you go to bed, make sure your mosquito net is either touching the ground, or is tucked in, and your exposed areas (especially your ankles) are protected with repellent.
For those irritating bites
Traveler’s cheques and cash are accepted at hotels and Bureau de Changes. US$ are the preferred currency. If you plan on taking cash, make sure you take large bills (e.g. $50 or $100) as these for some unknown reason always get a better rate. Don’t go running to the first Bureau you see at the airport, as these, along with the hotels and resorts, normally have the worst exchange rate. If you are planning on taking a taxi into town, rather pay the fare in US$ and go to a bureau in town. There are many all over town. Try to negotiate a better rate, you never know.
Try to pay for as much as possible in the local currency (Tanzanian Shillings), always bearing in mind the exchange rate. If the locals see you have foreign currency, they will try to relieve you of it. ALWAYS haggle or bargain and try to pretend you know what you are doing. Remember to keep some of your home currency for your return, just in case. You will also have to pay a departure tax of $30 when you leave.
There are a few consulates on the island, but all embassies are situated in Dar Es Salaam.
Make sure you consult your physician before coming to Tanzania if you have any health problems. Medical facilities in the country are very restricted, so best to make sure. The flying Doctor service is available. Please contact us if you require any more info on this.
It is imperative that you have travel insurance. Even though they do not check any certificates when you enter the airports, for your own peace of mind, make sure that you are adequately covered.
What to pack
Light sandals or rubber flip-flops. Some places require you to remove your shoes before entering. Good walking shoes if you plan on doing a lot of sight seeing.
Raincoat or umbrella if you are traveling in the rainy season. Monsoon rains are heavy.
Flashlight, for those irritating power cuts. Many hotels do have generator backup systems though.
Clothes – these should be light as it is very hot and humid. A jersey or windbreaker is recommended for those winter nights (just in case). Women are “frowned upon” for wearing revealing clothes. Mini-skirts are a definite no. Try to wear shorts (no not hot pants) or a long skirt, and try to keep the shoulders covered.
There are many Internet cafes in major towns and at some of the hotels and resorts, so in a non-emergency, this is the best form of communication. Charges range from Tsh1,000 to Tsh5,000 (about $1 to $5) for an hour’s connection. The local telephone company TTCL is inadequate, so if you need to phone internationally, best you ask at the Internet café. They usually have facilities, or they will be able to direct you to someone who has. Be careful, it may be expensive.
This is the same as the UK and in South Africa, being 220/230 V. Do not leave appliances plugged in all day, as there are many power fluctuations which might destroy them. US Citizens will have to get an adapter and a transformer for Zanzibar power. If your plug does not match, then enquire at a local shop, they should be able to assist.
If you are planning on renting a car or motorbike, make sure you have a VALID international driver’s license. You will be stopped in one of the many roadblocks, and often police are just looking for a bribe. Bribery has become a culture amongst the police, so make sure you have the correct documentation, to avoid having to pay a bribe.
If you plan on driving in Stone Town, make sure you know the roads, as there are many one way streets and the drivers are reckless. If a police car approaches with a siren hailing, you have to pull over to the side of the road and stop, no matter which way it is going. Once it has passed, you may pull out and continue.
As with all cities, Zanzibar is not free of crime. Unfortunately it has been on the increase, so make sure you do not take valuables on holiday with you. If you do take expensive jewelry, make sure it is either locked up when you go out, or hidden from sight.
Be careful not to walk the streets at night alone, this invites trouble. If you are confronted, do not resist, and try to report the matter to the police as soon as possible. The police are sometimes rude and arrogant, but an attempt will be made to recover your property.